Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer … let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6)
Prayer is the means God has given us for unburdening our souls. This is important to consciously, biblically affirm. Otherwise, we may feel weighed down with anxiety, with guilt, with discouragement, or with sorrow and yet have no solution for these soul burdens.
Does that perhaps describe you? As a Christian, you have a vague awareness in the back of your mind that we should not be constantly walking around with 1000-pound weights on our souls, but honestly you have forgotten lately what the biblical answer to this problem is.
The biblical view of prayer is taking real problems to a real God, who really does care about our difficulties.
Maybe you have tried the same things everyone at work or school is trying. “Escapism” seeks to avoid challenges by ignoring or entertaining them away. “Stoicism” tries to muscle or muddle our way through the pain by sheer force of will, or lack of feeling. Personal “problem-solving” determines to overcome issues in our own strength or wisdom. Or “positive thinking” attempts to conquer real problems with unrealistic optimism.
In the face of every human means of facing difficulties, Paul tells us give our burdens to God in prayer. Now let’s do a quick self-diagnostic here. When we hear Paul’s instruction, does it just sound to us like escapism or positive thinking? If so, then we have accepted our secular culture’s idea of prayer. It is blind faith in faith itself.
This idea of prayer is basically just throwing all your garbage up in the air and hoping it won’t fall right back down on your head again; because, in the end, there’s no one up there to catch it, and hold it, and help you with it! But this is a far cry from the biblical view of prayer, which is taking real problems to a real God, who really does have more strength then us and more wisdom than us. And this God really does care about our difficulties.
Casting our burdens on the Lord means going to God while we are burdened.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything and in every situation by prayer take your burdens to God.”
Prayer is the way we take our cares to God, the means God himself has given us for unburdening our souls. Coming to God with our cares means coming to God before our cares are no longer cares, before we have solved the problem ourselves, before we have cleaned up the mess, before the crisis has passed. Casting our burdens on the Lord means going to God while we are burdened, with the very things that are causing us to doubt Him, to get discouraged in prayer, to feel weighed down in real life.
This is not just optimistically throwing your garbage up into the air, hoping against hope that it won’t just fall back down on your head. No, this is resting in the concrete assurance of your Creator God that he will save, will deliver, will hear and answer those who come to him in prayer.